I’ve been thinking a lot about homemaking, these days. About being a woman and a caregiver and a creative soul. To be doing this fabulous, lively, engaging, and yes, tiresome, never-ending, unpaid work. I’ve been thinking, in particular, about how fulfilling it can be, how much of a chance there is for personal growth–what some call inner work. I was thinking about how conducive it can be to living ecologically, to learning new skills, to discovering new passions. And also reflecting on the sacrifices involved in it. There is much that I have had to let go of in order to be fully present for my family (For example, among things on hold for me are a half-written novel about a tree-pruner in 19th century New Mexico). There are days when I struggle with this sacrifice, and days when I celebrate all I have gained in its stead.
And yes, I was also thinking about what makes it work for me, the nitty gritty everyday sorts of things that help our family thrive. I started working on this little series of posts I have planned called Ordering the Stars. And then, boom, I was struck by this lightning bolt.
My housekeeping prowess that I was bragging a bit about? It’s not my de-cluttering, or personal growth, or menu plans, or some profound philosophy that I can credit. Okay, it is all those things, a little bit. But here’s my real secret, for better of for worse: It’s that I’m, um, driven. A doer, a manifester, a highly enthusiastic, more than a bit competitive, rising star in the type-A Uber Mother universe.
In other words, motherhood had become yet another product-oriented job. As in, how productive can I be? How clean can I get my house, how beautifully can I celebrate festivals, how strictly can I stick to the all-important rhythm, how gently can I parent (a wild banshee), how little plastic can I use, how well can I keep to a tiny budget while still shopping at the most expensive market, how quickly can I lose the baby weight, how fully can I keep my old hobbies and passions alive while doing all the rest of this?
Now, these are all worthy things, wonderful things to guide ones work as a mother. I think in some ways we need to have high expectations of ourselves, to have a vision and to strive towards it. And yet in motherhood perhaps more than any other undertaking, it is possible to strive and strive towards an impossible ideal. To never be quite as good as we think we should be. I could go on and on about how much I enjoy this season of Motherhood–it is challenging and provocative and engaging work. But it’s not a job. It’s life. I’d prefer to just be living it.
I keep wondering how to slip the word “surrender” into this post, so I’ll just say it here. Surrender, Mama! Chill out! Have Fun! Do it cause you love it, not because you saw it on someone else’s blog. It’s okay!
If we need to strive, how about giving ourselves goals that are nurturing and real? To shift it from a How Much kind of quest to a How To kind–from a product to a process. To be guided by questions like, How can I be present in this moment? How can I show love to myself, my children, my partner? Or, What does it feel like to soften into this journey, letting it take me where it will? Or, would it really be the end of the world if I just chilled out?
PS–You know what’s cool about all us type-A mothers out there? We have this great safety valve built in that keeps us from being perfectionists: our kids! Three cheers for quirky little beings not interested in conforming to our agendas.
Happy Mother’s Day!
13 Replies to “Ordering the Stars: Chilling Out”
I recently found your weblog, and this post confirms for me that I was right to bookmark it. I love what you have written here! And your advice – surrender, chill out – is perfect! Happy Mother’s Day.
Welcome to Old Recipe, Sarah. It is a pleasure to meet you!
dear, dear friend. Can you write a book? No wait, like you said you want to live your life.
I loved this. From one type A mama to another (it seems to me many mama bloggers are type A anyway – driven to perform and then write about it).
I have been doing a lot of thinking, reading, reflecting, journaling, planning, etc… on how to transition from mothering/homemaking to mothering/homemaking/and something else. So I’ve been reading books and blogs of mothers who “manage” or appear to “do-it-all” or at least do what I want to do – make some money from creative endeavors and be a homemaker/homeschooler. And to be honest I’d like to succeed and be recognized for achievements outside my home also after years of focusing on kids and homemaking (just being truthful).
I’ve concluded of course you can’t do it all (I knew this already). You have to really know what you’re priorities are. And can I just say I LOVE your priorities. Maybe because they so much match my own at that stage of mothering.
I know your post is not about priorities, but like you say surrender -ah, I get that word. But really what you end up surrendering is a lot of the stuff that isn’t the top priorities. Here I am trying to tie this rambling comment into your post somehow.
I guess I just want to say I feel you’re on the right track (at least a track I can identify with).
And your PS. so, so true! I am so thankful for all that my children have taught me and how they have changed me so much for the better for having been their mama.
Happy Mother’s Day Kyce!
Yes, your journey is expanding right now out from the narrower confines of family, which from what I know of your story, was a time you have embraced and celebrated.
I think wanting to have a presence of your own–acknowledgment, income, work of your own making–is a natural progression, a necessary one. After all, someday soon your children will be grown and leaving you to live their lives. It is important we are ready for that day by having been living our lives for ourselves, and not just our children. Which is where it all gets so tricky. I guess like you say, priorities shift, they match the different phases of motherhood, and most of all we have to trust our instincts as they guide us to create the lives we are meant to live.
Fantastic!! Reforming Type-A-Uber-Mamas of the world unite! Wouldn’t it be great to see everyone do a series of “chill out” posts. Like, hey, look at all this dirty laundry! Look at the raspberries I haven’t pruned yet! Check out my child mid-tantrum. Ahh, I can dream. Thank you, as always, for saying it and saying it so well.
Oh my goodness is that Ben? Adrie’s Ben? Or is it Adrie? I totally agree, it would be like the Regretsy of uber mama blogs. But, of course, we’d have to knock ourselves out looking for the beauty and what all in those moments of chaos. Which of course, we’d be able to find, b/c we’d be so chill.
oh boy, I hear ya!
i was thinking on most of those things just tonight while I was putting my baby to sleep…
My huge list of things to do that I constantly have written on a whiteboard with little boxes requiring checks. It’s a good crafty list, but plays on me at times.
I am a big DO-er too. can Not sit still. Sometimes I wish I could!
Sacrificing some things and opening other doors for a while has been a lovely shift for me. I am an apprenticing carpenter hoping for my journeyman’s ticket some day but really feeling blessed to be able to stay at home with my girl! Its okay to put the hammer down for a few years!
there’s a time for everything I guess…
happy mom’s day!
i still want to hear your old world order of the stars. ; )
and be easier on myself too.
Good to hear from you! I saw your rivers story in Mountain Gazette in my local, Durango food co-op. Wonderful!
Chilling out and enjoying your life and your children’s short time as children will definitely be remembered more when you’re an old woman, than the ten quilts you made.
(but still, there are weeds to pull and parsley to plant)…
Ah, yes, the good old re-ordering of priorities. No to quilting, yes to parsley. The best thing about planting parsley is it keeps re-planting itself, whereas quilts, well, just don’t seem to have that knack.
oh, this speaks to me for so many reasons. Thank you
thank you for these motherhood posts! wonderfully written & completely relevant in my life right now. Really hits home 😉 seriously, i’ve been thinking about these same things–our ‘simple’ life at home, my ‘letting go’ of the expectations and embracing what it is we are ACTUALLY doing. being engaged in each moment is SO much more important than the ‘product’. Thanks for sharing and reminding…(& for stopping by my blog).